Dispatch from Ferguson Saturday, August 16

by Li Onesto | August 17, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Saturday August 16: It’s raining pretty steady today in Ferguson but this has not dampened the anger and impatience of the people here who continue to come into the streets to demand justice for Michael Brown. There was a march from the site where Michael was killed by the police down Florissant Street where hundreds have been protesting for a week now—where people were attacked by the police with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Early Saturday morning in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo: Reuters.

At a church in the afternoon the powers that be had a big press conference—they assembled everyone there, major political figures and national and international media to make their new announcement: yet another attack and insult to the people. The Governor of Missouri got up with some bullshit honey-eyed words about maintaining the rights of people to protest. He even talked about how people around the country are speaking in “one united voice” for justice. But then went on to announce a State of Emergency—that there would be a curfew in the “effected area of Ferguson” starting tonight, from 12 midnight to 5am. He said, “The eyes of the world are on us.” No shit—this is why he is taking this repressive step to try and put a lid on the people’s anger.

Then one reporter shouted out: “Excuse me, Governor, you need to charge that police with murder.” And this was followed with many shouting, “yeah” and “where’s the indictment.” 

From this point on their well-planned, scripted press conference turned into a battle where they had a difficult time maintaining control.

The next speaker—Ron Johnson, chief of the highway patrol in the St. Louis area, now in charge on the streets in Ferguson—was also interrupted after a few minutes with: “Why has it taken so long to indict the killer cop?”

When they opened things up to questions and answers this was when things got heated. Several people asked questions about why there was no indictment and people also wanted to know how they were going to enforce this new curfew—with rubber bullets and tear gas like they had done before? Just about every time such questions were asked people in the crowd would start speaking out, calling for justice.

The Governor and Chief of Police kept bringing things back to “security” and “keeping peace.” But many reporters and others in the crowd persisted in trying to change the whole focus of the Q&A to why there had been no arrest of the killer cop and the brutality that protesters have already faced from the police out in the street.

The room was clearly divided. There were those in the room who were totally with the program of “keeping the calm,” and putting a lid on the people’s anger. There were those who got up and stated that they were fully willing to work with the police to enforce the curfew. But others clearly weren’t having it.

I was sitting directly in front of the podium and at one point I was able to get the floor and ask the Governor a question: “Excuse me, can you explain to us why this whole press conference is focused on controlling the anger of the people when the whole reason the people have been in the streets for a week now is because people are demanding justice and there has been no arrest, there has been no indictment and people know that this poor child, this 18 year old young man was killed in cold blood and there has been no arrest and people are demanding justice, that is why people are in the street and now this whole press conference has been turned into an explanation of why you are controlling people’s anger and suppressing people’s anger and telling people to calm down. Why is that the case?”

The whole time I was saying this, the Governor and Chief of Police were staring at me, looking rather annoyed but also very nervous—especially when lots of people yelled and clapped in agreement at the end. But then they just went on with the press conference as if I hadn’t even asked a question.

There continued to be several more outbursts from the crowd from people—impatience, anger and frustration coming out at the outrage of this whole thing. Then finally, they just ended the whole thing.

One reporter asked if they were going to use tear gas and their hippo tanks against the people again to enforce the curfew. They answered by promising to not use “unnecessary force.” But this just means they’ll use what they see as “necessary force” tonight to clear the streets.

I’ll end now so I can go out and be among those who are standing up. It’s gonna be a long night. Stay tuned.

And there is still no justice for Michael Brown.



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